OSCE calls on Turkey to urgently release Cumhuriyet journalists

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OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir AFP PHOTO BERTRAND GUAY /

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir on Monday called on Turkey to release from pretrial detention five Cumhuriyet journalists who are being tried on charges of aiding a terrorist organization.

Seven Cumhuriyet journalists were released during the first hearing in July by an İstanbul court, which continued the pretrial detention of five others.

An İstanbul court on Monday evening ruled for continuation of pretrial detention for five Cumhuriyet daily journalists.

Désir asked Turkey on his Twitter account to release the journalists, who, he said, are being imprisoned without any concrete evidence.

“Keeping @Cumhuriyetgzt journalists 2 more weeks in prison on baseless accusations is unacceptable. I call on Turkey to urgently release them,” wrote Désir.

The charges brought against 17 Cumhuriyet employees in an April indictment accuse them of aiding the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) and the Gülen movement, which is accused by Turkish authorities of being behind a failed coup last year.

The court in July released Güray Öz, Musa Kart, Bülent Utku, Hakan Kara, Önder Çelik, Turhan Günay and Mustafa Kemal Güngör and continued the pretrial detention of Akın Atalay, Murat Sabuncu, Kadri Gürsel, Ahmet Şık and Emre İper.

Arrest warrants for Cumhuriyet’s former Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar and US-based journalist İlhan Tanır are still outstanding.

The suspects were arrested by the İstanbul 9th Penal Court of Peace on Nov. 5, 2016. Atalay was detained at İstanbul Atatürk Airport upon his return from Germany and subsequently arrested on Nov. 12, 2016.

Cumhuriyet reporter Şık was also detained on Dec. 22 and arrested on Dec. 30, 2016 on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda.

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